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As we all know, the best way to prove your brain is really good at thinking is to add as many letters behind your name as possible.

Who knew that saying, “I read a lot of books and periodicals about financial stuff… seriously, here’s an Instagram shot of my bookshelf,” wouldn’t be enough to establish my bonafides in the eyes of certain readers?

Apparently I need a little more gravitas, and as we all know, the best way to prove your brain is really good at thinking is to add as many letters behind your name as possible.  I’ve already got a bunch of letters from ivory towers (and working on three more that will come with my Masters of Education degree), but that doesn’t really do a whole lot for convincing you guys that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to stuff like buying ETFs using a discount brokerage, mutual funds, robo advisors, stock valuations, or pretty much anything else that might be relevant to most people.  Consequently, I’m thinking about trying on the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) for size.

Back to School

I was talking to Dan Bortolotti of Canadian Couch Potato and Moneysense fame a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that as part of the new fee-only service he’s a part of, he was taking the CSC course.  From what he was saying, and from what I’ve ready online, it sounds like that course is the main obstacle to being able to recommend specific securities to specific people.

In other words (and again, this is only from what I could grasp online today – they don’t make it easy to understand btw!) as of right now it is actually against the law for me to answer an email and say, “I think this specific security is right for your portfolio.”

Passing the CSC and then possibly one or two other short courses that depend on my province of residence would allow me to answer this question BUT NOT trade on their behalf or anything like that.  It also isn’t nearly as prestigious as the CFP and/or CFA designations, but I’m not looking to challenge MBA students for jobs at Investors Group here, so I think this course might actually fit my goals.

Related: MMFBT 010 – Dan Bortolotti “The Canadian Couch Potato”

Why Would I Take the CSC if I’m Not in the Financial Services Industry?

If you’re asking yourself, “Why does this guy want to burn another $1,000 on the altar of more letters behind his name?” then you certainly wouldn’t be the only one.  Beyond giving our blogs a little bit of a credibility – something I thought publishing a book with a beer on the cover might do – the CSC might be a nice feather in my cap going forward for a few reasons.

First and foremost, it’s never a bad thing to get smarter – especially when you’re writing a blog where you purport to try and help other people.  The course might be a cool way to come up with some post ideas I hadn’t thought of before.

It would also serve as a nice tool to help me on my quest for a personal finance curriculum in Manitoba – and possibly across the prairie provinces.  Having someone that could credibly say they understand the investing world and that can speak both of the incredibly ridiculous and weird sets of terminology associated with finance and education, should be a real asset.  More and more I’m coming around to the idea that this might be my real calling the world of education… or it might be writing books about beer consumption, I could go either way.

Related: What Do Teachers Know about Financial Literacy?

Finally, it might also help me if I decide to do some small-scale investment advice on the side.  While I would obviously have to get a CFP designation and give up teaching if I were to pursue that idea full time (something I can’t see at the moment), I believe – and please correct me if I’m wrong in the comments – that the CSC designation and then a couple of subsequent licensing exams would allow me to recommend certain securities and the essential basics of financial advice.

I would never pretend to believe that I should give some advice about estate planning/will writing, accounting, small business tax strategies, or any of the more complicated stuff that CFPs are charged with knowing – but I think I could provide a substantial value in a rural environment where financial professionals are thin on the ground, and not cost effective for many people.  That’s a little down the road though.

What is the Canadian Securities Course Anyway?

Here is how the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) describes that course:

Learn About:

  • The Canadian securities industry and the regulatory environment
  • Market and economic events impacting investment performance
  • Understanding and analyzing corporate financial statements
  • Financial instruments: fixed income, equities, managed products, structured products, fee based accounts and derivatives
  • Company, industry and market performance/analysis
  • The portfolio management process and asset allocation
  • Setting financial goals, the financial planning process and taxation
  • Industry standards of conduct and the code of ethics
  • The institutional marketplace

The CSC encompasses some 150 hours of learning providing a comprehensive understanding of the structure and players in the financial services industry, the features, benefits and risks of a vast array of investment products, the two main approaches to analyzing investment securities and techniques and approaches to understanding client needs and setting financial goals. In addition to all that, the CSC will help you to understand industry jargon (top-down and bottom-up analysis) astounding your friends and family.

On one forum, a writer named “Money Gal” might have put it best when she said, “Think about the CSC as your “union card” for selling investment products.”  It seems to be a relatively low bar/entry point and essentially three letters that tell people you are not a moron when it comes to this money stuff.

From what I was able to read of the course it looks pretty basic.  A fair amount of reading (some of it dry) about topics I’ve been reading about for quite a while.  Other people in the blog world have said they didn’t find it particularly challenging, but then again, maybe they are just much smarter than me.

Actually, now that I think about it, there are really only two outcomes of taking the course – both positive.

1) I learn a few new things, get some new writing ideas, and answer peoples’ emails a little more in-depth without getting a criminal record.


2) I get lost in a sea of information that proves I’m not nearly as smart as I like to think, and get my ego pounded down closer to the size most people would consider “healthy”.

I’m not sure which you guys should be hoping for more…

Anyway, I’m not at all certain that a few conversations and a couple hours of web surfing  have provided me with an accurate look at what it takes to pass the Canada Securities Course, or even if I have the exact idea about what it would allow me to legally do with Canada (really the only thing that was readily apparent was that everyone with a CFP or CFA designation loved to look down on it and talk about how much better their letters were than someone else’s letters).  So if anyone out there (letters behind name – optional) would like to provide some clarity that would be great.

In a perfect world I’m hoping that eventually my background in education and communicating can come together with a little financial knowledge and lead to something where I can help bridge the gap that currently exists between basic PF information and the public at large.

Am I biting off more than I can chew and wasting $1,000 in the process?

Article comments

MC says:

Can, I just take the exam without taking the course? for CSC
How to save money for the course?
how much is the cost?
What’s the website for registration, of course and exam?
and what to take to be eligible for the CSC exam?

Kaur says:

What kind of knowledge should i have to do CSC?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Kaur, I don’t think you need any specific knowledge ahead of time as the course materials will guide you through what you need to know. I don’t think the CSC is worth taking (IMO) but it will give you a good understanding of financial markets and securities.

Tiffany says:

I just completed the CSC exam actually today and what really helped me was having prior knowledge (i’ve done a business degree). You can still do it without having a business degree but it really allowed me to cut down on study time.

In the Industry says:

Seems to be some misunderstanding in your article which leads to some erroneous info. Seen this a lot in the industry. First off, the CSC is not a designation. It is an acronym — first initials of the course. Comparing it to the CFP or CFA is like comparing an appetizer to a full course meal. You can’t have an appetizer only and say you had the full meal. You need to have the appetizer, entree, side dishes, and dessert.

The CSC is an introductory course. If that is the only course you have completed, you can be licensed to sell mutual funds but that is the only license you can get. If you want to give advisement or transact other securities, you need to take a few more courses. The courses you take depends on what level of license you need and what your job position is. But since CSC is introductory, it is a pre-requisite for taking most of the other courses.

The CSI also offers designations. You need to pass more than one course to get a designation. Much like any other post-secondary education. You can’t take one course and say you have a degree. If you take the required courses at CSI, you can apply to write the CFP exam to get that designation. You can also get other designations through CSI.

I see a lot of people in the industry who misunderstand this and even misrepresent this on their business cards. If you see someone put CSC after their name, they have no clue what they are talking about. Their business card can say Completed Canadian Securities Course or something like that but if they put CSC after their name, that is misrepresenting the course name as a designation. Not ethical or knowledgable.

Are there designations you can get that don’t require the CSC? Yes, CFA goes a different route. But if you want the CIM, PFP, or FCSI designations, amongst others, you need to start with completing the CSC for the most part. CSI courses also qualify for writing the CFP designation exam.

Best to do a little research before posting.

Banker says:

I finished the CSC course in March 2019, don’t see much value of it as of right now. It hasn’t helped me in my career in terms of getting a raise or promotion, nor has it presented me to more opportunities; the course material is pretty much what I have already leant in university. I’d say the CSC was a waste of money for me.

Vik says:

I have similar question as the one Laura has asked above. I have mba in finance and acc but i am currently working in tech and as a softwaredev professio al. I would love to start something on sides to utilize my financial knowledge and skills. Is there a route for independent financial advisors? Remaining in my ft tech job can i get licensed somehow? And then start my advisory firm as a part time thing or a weekend only thing.. Along the lines of no commissions only fee. I am also open to advise only.. So no trading on my side. I ama bit confused.. Also im 35 so i am a bit risk averse now so wouldnt want to jump right into advisory full time.. And loose my decent salary suddenly.

Laura says:

Kyle, this is a great post – and I can relate because I am in the same boat!

I thought I had a great entrepreneur idea, which was to leverage my wealth of personal finance knowledge, coupled with my MBA, into a financial consulting firm. You know, actually charge money for financial advice and coaching, which until now I had been doing for free.

The main hurdle is definitely the idea of recommending specific stocks.
My research indicates that not only must you complete all the required courses you have mentioned (CSC, and CPH) but you must also be sponsored by a registered firm in order to become licensed to even advise on securities.
This infographic is moderately helpful: https://www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/infographic-Whos-who-in-the-investment-industry.pdf

Maybe someone else can clarify, but how can you claim to provide ‘independent, fee-only, financial advice’ but also be sponsored by a firm that likely accepts commissions for the sale of securities?

If there is a way to become licensed with respect to securities and maintain the ability to be an independent entrepreneur I would love to know.

JJ says:

I wasted 4 years of my life going back to school specifically to prepare for the CSC which I completed towards the end. Since then it has had no impact on getting a job like I was promised. It was a complete waste of time and money.

AM says:

Damn, not even an internship in the field?

Tanya says:

I have had an extremely difficult experience with the Oliver’s learning insurance course/ exams. My experience with customer service was rude and not helpful. For someone who is trying to get a job in the field, it is very hard to complete one exam (out of 6) that you only get one try/day to pass. They are also unable to reset my tests during weekends so that I don’t miss 2 whole days. This is unacceptable because when you study for exams, you usually don’t have to wait 2 days to do it. I’m very displeased. They also had no intention to help me when I called them three times asking for help.

AB says:

I am a senior banker in Bangladesh working for European Bank under Cash Management Operations, Corporate Clients. I understand that prior to pursuing for a banking job in Canada, I need to complete CSC course or any other banking related course by residing in Dhaka.

May I know the followings :

1. Which courses should I complete for banking Operational job?

2. Can the courses be possible to complete from the territory of Dhaka, Bangladesh?

3. If yes to query no. 2, then what are the steps / process to move forward? Is there any organisation here in Dhaka?

Pramit says:

My name is Pramit from India.
I am a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI),Company Secretary from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India(ICSI), have appeared for CFA level 2 Exams(June 2016), Cost Accountant from the Institute of Cost Accountants of India and holding Bachelor’s degree in Commerce with distinction from Gujarat University. Currently , I am working in an organization as a Financial Accountant since last 1 year. I aim to get into Investment Banking.

I will be applying to some decent universities in Canada for MBA in Finance.
I would like to know whether CSC will create some value additions in landing an investment banking job or not?


Kyle says:

I don’t believe I have the authority to answer that question credibly Pramit, but perhaps someone else may wander by and answer it? My guess is that it would, but take that for what it’s worth.

Del says:

Which is preferred; CPA or CSC

Kyle says:

The CPA is definitely a more well-recognized credential Del.

Phil says:

Hey there, I am a full time student that is back in toronto for the summer. Is there anyway I can crash the course into just a couple months? I have a lot of finance knowledge already and I am very efficient with my time. What do you guys think? I want to be done before early september.

Kyle says:

I don’t have any real idea Phil, but in my experience, if someone is truly motivated, two months is a long time…

Richard says:

I don’t think you can finish the entire CSC in two months even with some prior knowledge. Its actually quite extensive on reading and they test your understanding of the material not your knowledge. I did mine in a little less than 4 months which I think is the minimum amount of time you need, and although I passed easily, I did regret not taking at least a few more weeks to really internalize everything they teach you.

Khang says:

Next few years, all of banks will replace current human advisors to “robo-advisors”. Cheaper, faster, and working 24/7. Do robo advisors need these kind of certificate?

Kyle says:

Hi Khang, check out the article we wrote on robo advisors – there are people behind those programs! The only thing that is automated is the selection of investing portfolios. Most of the other folks that you deal with for actual advice will presumably have some sort of credential – although right now in Canada we do a terrible job of standardizing financial credentials of any kind.

khang says:

i am the first year student at centennial college [financial planning] , today i first met my teacher , he introduced me about CSI, and he told me that i have to register for this course !
WTF ? i already paid for my course at school, why should i have to pay 1000$ for this kind of material ?

Kyle says:

Welcome to the certification game my friend. From what I can tell, there aren’t too many ways around it.

Ashley says:

I am currently studying for the CSC Volume 1 – 2014 Version with recent updates. I am not the greatest with exams and can easily forget the content I read. Should I purchase study notes and just study the notes ? If so, from where ? The CSI website has a bundle for Volume 1&2 , has anyone purchased the study notes from the CSI website, if so were the notes based on the actual exams ?? Did you pass on first try ? There is also third part websites like See Why Learning and Oliver Learning who provide study notes, has anyone purchased these study notes ??? See Why Learning Guarantees you pass the test with their notes or money back ?? Is this true , are their notes really based on the exams ????

I really need to pass this exam within the next 3 to 4 weeks .


Kyle says:

I personally haven’t used them Ashley, but perhaps another reader will stop by and answer your question!

Ceci says:

I stumble upon this blog in search of licensing requirements to offer the public start-up convertible notes, bonds, as well as trading options for others. I didn’t know CSC only allows for giving investment advice, but no right to trade for others. To be honest, I have been in the accounting business forever, with private equity and M&A deal closes, without being a CA/CPA. Looking at the CSI website and IIROC, I am puzzle as to what exactly are the requirements to become a dealer. CFP and CFA are way too much for me to consider, I probably only need to learn about 10% of what I need to do to make a living.

Kyle says:

That makes sense Ceci. Thanks for the comment!

Gj says:

I work as an advisor to one of Canada’s insurance and investment company and recently passed my CIFC. One thing I learned about this financial job is that you have to commit to continuing studies trainings to be compliant to regulatory bodies and to avoid future litigation. One cannot say he/she have enough experience and knowledge in finance, because the world of finance is constantly changing. Experience and knowledge from yesterday does not necessarily mean or guarantee its application tomorrow. Just a piece of advice,never offer a financial advice or investment strategy if you are not licensed and sponsored by a bank or an investment firm, because how would you feel about 65 year old, retired, invest his/her retirement savings of $500,000 and wake next day and it’s all gone!! That’s all because of someone’s financial advice.

Kyle says:

Thanks for chiming in CJ – the ironic thing about your statement is that it is far more likely that your hypothetical 65-year-old will have less retirement savings than expected BECAUSE she went to a bank or investment firm. Far better off going to a fee-only advisor! Besides – what type of investments go from 500K to zero overnight? That’s gotta be some pretty bad stuff!

Ser says:

Thanks Kyle, very interesting. I’m currently thinking about taking the course, but I don’t know if it will help me get a job without any university education. All i have is my high school diploma but I have a lot of experience with the stock market (I day trade) , I was wondering if I get as many courses possible from CSI, am I going to have a chance ? I want to be a portfolio manager.

Kyle says:

I would say you likely won’t have a chance unfortunately Ser. There is no logical reason, but that filter that post-secondary education currently operates in Canada functions as a monopoly.

YT says:

Hi all there,

I think I might be able to answer some of the questions here.

First would like to say sorry about my English, it is my second language. There might be a lot of grammar errors. lol.

I went through all this situation and questions myself before.
I’m just expressing my opinions, it’s personal experiences and it might not be correct.

Just to introduce myself, I have a B.Com (Hon) in Finance, I passed my June CFA Level 2 this year, got the CFP designation this year, passed the CSC, IFIC, LLQP, currently taking the RRC and planning to take the FRM once I done my CFA Level 3 exam in 2016. (FYI beside the IFIC is funded by the bank I work for, I paid for all other courses myself) am Planning to take the WME and CPH too only if my employer willing to pay for it.
** I’m not smart, I’m just hard working. A lot of time I feel like I’m a cheap slave.**

For those who planning to take the CSC, you mush know the certificate only last for 3 years. If you don’t use it within 3 years it will expire. Unfortunately, mine did expired and I have to take the WME in order to be IIROC license.

CSC ($1000) is for IIROC and MFDA license
IFIC ($375) is only for MFDA license
(if you not planning to become IIROC license in the future you don’t need the CSC)

Most of bank will pay for the course if it is required by your position.
IFIC is a lot cheaper and is also a lot easier. It’ll expire in 3 years too if you don’t use it. (Use it I mean register as a license sale rep)

For those who think the certificate will help you to secure a job in the bank, you might have to reconsider. First, I think the same way by taking the course will help me to get into the banking world. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Maybe I’m just the unlucky one.
Reality check !!! You need to know someone to get in.

My recommendation, don’t waste your money. Spending $1000 to make your CV look good? you might have to rethink that. The most important thing is your experience. Yes CSC is a PLUS (and ya so the bank don’t need to pay for it) but if you don’t have experience, no matter how many certificates you have. It’s NOTHING !!!!

Nowadays, most banks like to hire salesperson because the only thing you do in the bank is sell, sell, sell. You sell their accounts, you sell their credit cards, your sell their mortgage/ credit products, you sell their investment products. (FYI that not what I expect before I get into that world) Now they started to ask the front teller to sell @@

If that is what you want to do then get a sale job and learn how to sale. Also know your banker and build a relationship with them. It will be way easier to get in if you know someone inside.
The bank will train you on what you need to know after you get hired and they will pay for whatever certificate you need if it require by your position. (You don’t need to know a lot of finance to be a banker, you just need to be good in sale. My coworker from futureshop knows ZERO about mortgage, ZERO about investment, ZERO about insurance when he started. With the same position in the bank, we get pay the same. so do you still think those certificates help?? ) as I said they will train you what you need to know.

as “finance guy” mention above, working in banking/investment field is a high stress, long hours and constant pressure for results from the bosses that exactly what it is if you want to be on the top. (I double, if not triple or quadruple my targets and they still expect more. Beside that I don’t feel they value me as a valuable employee) As I said that my personal experience or maybe it is just the bank I work for. (Yes, I’m looking for a different job)

For Kyle the 12 garder,
CSC is not for investment banking, although it is good basic finance course to start with but for $1000 it’s your choice. CFA is the one you aim for to get into investment banking world but you need a degree before you can register for the level 1 exam. (2015 Level 1 worldwide pass rate is only 42%) Also, in the investment banking world, you can be on the sale side or the analysis side. Analysis side is where I’m working hard to get into.
FYI, if you search “finance analyst” jobs online, you will see a lot of them require accounting designation (i.e CA, CGA, CMA which they all call CPA now) @@ after I graduated from finance and start looking for job that what I realized, my first reaction is WTF……. @@ I’m screwed.

For those who looking to learn how to invest,
I recommend you go pick up those “for dummies” books.
CSC is for general finance knowledge, like the university textbook it tells you a little bit of everything (you learn what is this, what is that) that it’s !!
I learn how to invest in stock, futures and option from the Dummies and I learn how to read chat/ technical analysis from the Dummies too.
(I’m NOT here to advertise their book)

Sorry for the long post
I hope it helps some people who are debating whether or not to take the exam.
Again, it is my personal experiences and my opinions. Some might disagree what I said.

GOOD LUCK for everyone and happy thanksgiving.

Kyle says:

Thank you very much for the detailed post YT! It’s good to read firsthand about people’s experiences. No worries about the 2nd language stuff. I wish I was confident enough to attempt a comment in a second language!

lisa says:


I have just received my PR for Canada and plan to land there in a few months.I work for an European Bank in India and have over 15 years experience in Loan Operations and Customer On-boarding. What courses should I do to get into a bank. Will the CSC course help me. Thanks in advance

Kyle says:

Hey Lisa. It really depends on many factors. I would say that your English skills probably at least as big a role as any credential. I would also guess that it depends on what position you want within the bank. I don’t think credentials like CSC course would hurt though.

Another Kyle says:

I’m a Grade 12 student about to finish high school early. I’m moving out to play soccer for a semi-pro soccer team, but will have ample free time. I’m going into commerce at Queen’s University in the fall and definitely want to get into high finance, hopefully something like investment banking after university. Do you think I could pull off the CSC in 4 months? Would I be too young and/or uneducated, or would someone with a high school education and a strong interest in finance be able to pull off a good grade?

Kyle says:

There are probably better people out there to answer this question Kyle, but imho someone who is motivated and has time can accomplish quite a bit. If you are motivated to learn and usually pick things up quickly I bet you could do it in 4 months. Worst case scenario you take it again and pay a bit of money right?

Myriame says:


I was looking up pinterest and found your post. It’s great!
I’m doing my CSC right now.
To have your certificate, there is 2 volume. (So 2 very hard exam… Just saying!)
While you do your CSC, some recommend you do your code of practice cours after. It’s the CFP code of deontologie kinda thing.
When you do your CSC volume 1, you can do transaction that people ask you to do, but can’t guide them on what to buy and how to invest.
Volume 2, you can fully help someone.
If you do an average of 80% on both of your exam, you get a red honor seal.
Kinda cool, but let just say that I don’t think it happens often. Did 74% on volume one and I studied like crazy!

And to have your certificat, yes you need to pay the lovely 1000$!

FYI, I don’t know if you’ve done it yet or not, but in New Brunswick, took us 3 weeks of notice so they can place a date and time to do our first volume. I did it with my class at my community college. We are all studying financial plannig so, maybe by having a bigger class, you get your exam sooner because they know the exam will not just be for 2 or 3 person?

And I saw in the earlier comment that some people where still in college and thinking of doing their CSC. I’m studying financial planning (my goal is to get my CFP and become a Financial Planner). It’s very doable to go to college (i’m at CCNB-Dieppe, french class with english book, just saying that to say that it’s even more difficult for the one that where in my class that don’t understand perfectly english… it quite the challenge for some of them) and add CSC to the mix. Let just say, having an agenda and plan when to study helps a lot!

Hope you get your CSC certification. I find it very rewarding. 🙂

The mother of a 3yo who did her retirement planning courses last december, her CSC volume 1 last march and right now doing her CSC volume 2 and LLQP trough CSI, both exam at the end of April/ beginning of May. Yay!

Kyle says:

Thanks for the feedback Myriame! Glad to see our Pinterest traffic is going strong! Congrats on your successes so far and good luck going forward.

Supermonkey says:

Should I take CSC while I’m still in school?
I’m in the third year of the college, and thinking of getting in the financial industry after graduation, should I take the CSC now?

Kyle says:

I can’t see how it could hurt Supermonkey. If you got the spare cash lying around I would think it would look good on your CV right?

Sarah says:

Hi Kyle,

Not sure when this article was published but here is some info:-

1) to write the exam itself u need to pay $1000, you can choose whether u need pdf books and notes or hard copy of books and you pay extra.
2) if you just want the book, there are free pdf copies available on csi’s website, just google csc course pdf books.
3) if you are a student who wants to write the exam, your CSC prof can get you 10% discount on the fee.
4) you can choose to write the exam online by paying extra.
5) the dates for the exams are very tough to get so i would suggest to plan ahead.

I hope that helps!


Kyle says:

Thanks Sarah. The decision is still fresh in my mind. I’m finishing up my M.Ed. this year and after that I’m considering getting the qualification. Thanks for your time and info!

John says:

So I have a question. I am new to this so I am sorry but if I just read that pdf, can I just go and do the exam and get my designation instead of paying that 1000 for the course.

Kyle says:

I think so John, but I’m not sure tbh. I didn’t end up doing the exam in the end. Next year after I’m done my Masters courses possibly.

Finance Guy says:

1. Taking and passing the CSC DOES NOT allow you to provide advice to clients or the general public. The CSC is the technical proficiency side of getting licensed.
2. You also need to complete the CPH Conduct & Practices Handbook course in order to learn the rules & regulations side and attain a provincial securities license.
3. The CSC is NOT a designation. It’s a course. One of many. I know – I’ve done many of them. Designations are CFP, CFA, CIM, CSWP, CLU, etc.
4. The actual content inside the CSC that consists of financial planning is very rudimentary.
5. The CSC by itself will you to sell mutual funds through a registered dealer. Note that I said sell.
6. The CSC+CPH will allow you to sell and advise on mutual funds, stocks & bond through a registered dealer.
7. The CSC+CPH + Provincial life insurance license will allow you to sell and advise on mutual funds, stocks, bonds, life insurance (term, perm, univ), annuities, segregated funds.
8. CSC+IMT+PMT = CIM. CIM = a tiny fraction of CFA level 1. IMT is at least an interesting exam and you get to apply your knowledge. PMT is boring – it’s pure content regurgitation from the textbook and is more a memory test.

CSC will give you a comprehensive grounding in the fundamentals. However, that’s what it is – fundamentals. There is no investment portfolio structuring or strategies, no real asset analysis, no financial statement analysis outside of the basic ratios (no discussion on DuPont or anything). I would recommend PFPC or WME+finplan supplement for fundamental financial planning knowledge.

My advice? If you have a good teaching career, decent salary, benefits and a DB pension then stick to it and don’t join the financial world. My job is high stress, clients that expect miracles when they focus their money on their iPhone rather than their iRetire and the pay doesn’t compensate for the long hours and employer pressure for constant results. In my job, you can have the best client relationships and still be litigated by some guy that figures his stupid decisions that you advised him not to do were somehow your fault. There is no room for error in what I do – it’s not for everyone.

Kyle says:

Thanks a lot for the input FG! This really clears up several things. I was aware of most of it, but the detailed breakdown of what courses/designations allow you to do what is quite useful! Perhaps I’ll do a post summarizing this information a little.

I don’t think I’ll jump over to the financial world any time soon. I was more considering taking the courses just to gain a little street cred on the site here and so that I could help people out with a little more authority that could be measured. It might also help me in my quest to be taken seriously as a guy that could potentially help put together some financial literacy stuff within the world of education.

If it’s ok with you, can I steal the line about focusing money on iPhone as opposed iRetire? Awesome.

The litigation angle is something I had not thought about and is alarming. I’ll continue to be right up front warning people that I’m not qualified on certain things to avoid this!

fiscally fit says:

@ Finance Guy

I am curious to what you do? It sounds like you are at a brokerage with one of the big 5 banks. I have actually found the exact opposite lol the biggest clients typically are the easiest to deal with and follow all my advice. I would imagine that if you are with one of the big 5, they are scaling back the grids so much it could get frustrating.

Phil says:

I’ve had this inner debate now for the last 8 years or so. I am interested not really to improve myself, but rather to understand how the industry really operates. That said, spending the time in the markets winning and losing with my own money has taught me some valuable lessons. In the end if the chance arises, and I have some spare time, I’d take it, but honestly I’ve learned that I do better investment wise when I focus on what’s important to me, researching and understanding what I am buying or selling 9selling is almost as if not more important than buying) and my goals than clog it up with other noise… I know someone who has the books (for Ontario), but I have not had a chance to drop by and borrow them, as it has not really been a priority for me. Besides, I’m in a better financial position than her, and that suggests to me the information may not be as valuable for me as I believe it might- Cheers.

Phil says:

Oops, forgot – Cheers
Phil P.Eng
(since we were talking about those little end letters too)

Kyle says:

I highly doubt you’d learn a whole lot that you could actually use investment-wise Phil. Great final point. In regards to that, as a financial blogger I’d point out that no matter how good you’re knowledge of securities is, if you’re not good enough at personal finance and gaining capital, it’s sort of irrelevant. For me it’s more about the ego and credibility – but you do raise a good point about learning how the industry really works.

Robb says:

Hey Kyle, I’m curious why you want to give specific securities advice rather than personal finance advice? I believe you can create (and charge for) a financial plan for someone without holding a CFP designation and without recommending specific investments.

I don’t believe it’s offside to show someone a comparison of the cost and performance of bank mutual funds vs. low cost index funds and ETFs.

Kyle says:

Hey Robb,

Thanks for dropping by! The idea behind the securities course certainly has a lot to do with claiming a certain level of authority, and just my basic ego if I’m being brutally honest with everyone.

It isn’t offside to provide a financial plan (or call yourself “a financial planner) without a CFP designation, but I would like to be able to answer when someone says, “This is my situation, what do you think about these two ETFs to give me exposure to X”. The comparison between mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, and individual stocks (as well as other asset classes) is good, and fun to blog about, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to recommend a specific product to someone?

Phil says:

My personal thought, if I was a blooger, I would not want to personally recommend anything, but rather suggest looking at X based on someone’s situation. Better yet suggest looking into a couple of options, say a mutual fund or 2, a mitt full of ETF’s or even specific sector stocks and provide reasoning. Empower your readers to make their OWN decision, but with your input to narrow their search. If it is a career you are looking for then by all means get the necessary letters, but remember teaching is your primary gig… -Cheers.

Kyle says:

Thanks for the thoughts Phil, appreciate the input!

fiscally fit says:

Given your knowledge, a lot of the content will be familiar. The main thing to remember is that the CSC is just a course that allows you to apply for a licence(more or less) not really a designation. More than anything, it will give you a little insight to how the financial service industry interprets things.. for better or worse haha. At the very least, knowledge never hurts even if it is simply solidifying what we already know.

Kyle says:

Thanks FF. Knowledge never hurts… unless you’re trying to impart it on grade nine students 😉

After scanning the TOC it looks pretty pretty interesting. I’m leaning toward reading the free PDF anyway. Do you happen to know if that PDF is the same resource as the textbook FF?

Adrian says:

There is more than just the CSC before you can recommend securities. I work in securities policy – I would make sure you have checked out all requirements before giving any specific recommendations because you could be liable if it was “unsuitable” and there are license requirements that you may be offside of. The Ontario Securities Commission governs indiviudals that advise or trade in securities. There are lots of rules about what you need to know about the person asking about a security and paper work before you can recommend something. You may need to be registered with the OSC or IIROC.
Even if you dont want to recommend securities – I have heard it is a very useful course for personal knowledge.

Kyle says:

Thanks for the advice Adrian. I do know that the specific qualifications vary by province (as you indicated). It’d be good background to have as a blogger anyway right?

I share your desire to learn the material in the Canadian Securities Course, but I don’t need the designation. I’d just like to get access to the training materials, which I assume are mostly a set of books to read. So far I haven’t found the list of books (but I haven’t tried very hard either).

Kyle says:

I think it’s 2 main books from what I can tell MJ.

I poked around on amazon.ca and found used copies of Canadian Securities Course Volume I and Volume II. They seem to be 2008 versions. Any idea if these are the latest?

Kyle says:

Not sure, I did find this PDF link that linked to a PDF.

Upon a closer look it seems that this free PDF copy was made in 2012, so I’d say that’s the most recent? I wonder if a person could just study off of this free PDF copy instead of buying anything? I noticed CSI tries really hard to upsell course help eh?

No doubt some people need course help to pass the tests. I tend to do well studying on my own and have no need for a designation. So, I just want to read the books. Thanks for poking around the internet.

Brent says:

That’s correct. Two main books and two corresponding exams.

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